Developing countries must be brought on board as part of any deal on cutting carbon emissions in the shipping sector.
Developing countries must be brought on board as part of any deal on cutting carbon emissions in the shipping sector, the United Nation's shipping agency chief said on Wednesday.
Shipping and aviation are the only industry sectors not regulated under the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets for greenhouse gas emissions by rich countries from 2008-12.
Shipping accounts for nearly three percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and pressure has grown for cuts ahead of a crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.
Delegates from member state countries of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in July approved non-compulsory technical and operational measures to reduce greenhouse emissions from ships. Environmental groups argue the measures did not go far enough given opposition from China and India.
IMO Secretary General Efthimios Mitropoulos told it wanted to engage with all member states.
"We want not only the industrialised countries, but also the emerging economies and developing countries," he said in an interview.
"We need them all on board otherwise the contribution it would make to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would not be global and would not be as complete as we would like it to be," he said on the sidelines of a shipping conference.
The voluntary measures approved included an energy efficiency design index for new ships to ensure new vessel designs are environmentally friendly as well as an index for existing vessels.
The July session of the IMO's marine environment protection committee discussed for the first time the issue of market-based measures and agreed on a work plan which said it "could be in a position" to report its progress on the issue in 2011.
"I am very pleased that IMO members have shown the political maturity that is needed under the circumstances not to rush to make decisions before Copenhagen, which politically might not go down well in particular with the emerging economies and the developing countries," Mitropoulos said.
There are concerns in the shipping industry that the European Union could tax the shipping sector in the absence of a proper agreement on CO2 cuts.
"To date there is no binding regulations for the reduction of greenhouse gases from ships. From a European perspective, this is problematic," Mark Major, policy officer with the European Commission, told the conference.
"What is needed is some kind of commitment to reductions, some kind of timescale," he said.
Spyros M. Polemis, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 75 percent of the industry, said regional solutions would "inevitably lead to distortions of competition".
The EU has also sought to ease the pressure on the budgets of rich countries by suggesting that shipping and aviation could be used as a major source of funds for tackling climate change.
"I find it kind of odd ... where you have the majority of the industry in favour of action, the majority of large port states in favour of action, that still only a few large developing countries succeed in blocking progress for arguments which are nothing to do with shipping," Major said.